Out of the last ten people you have spoken to lately, how many of them have had colds or the flu? It’s amazing; you’d think the cold weather would end those cold strains, but no such luck. Why don’t we get away somewhere warm, via the supermarket, and head to the sunny land where avocados grow?
We see them on every trip down the produce aisle: those bumpy, tough-skinned fruits that look like dark green pears. Some of us may buy them; some of us may not because we aren’t quite sure what to do with them. But avocados are a wonderful fruit and worth a try in your kitchen!
Avocados originally call Mexico home, but they can be found growing in many tropical locations. 95% of the United States avocado production comes from Southern California; a place named Fallbrook, California is the avocado capital of the world.
What does the fruit taste like? Beneath the rough dark-green to almost black skin is the beautiful chartreuse-colored flesh of the avocado. If you’re buying avocados, feel the fruit; it should be firm, yet yield to gentle pressure. You can buy avocados that are very firm, and then let them ripen for a couple days in a brown paper bag. You can even add an apple to the bag; the ethylene gas from the apple will help speed up ripening.
Once they are ripe and ready to use, what then? Avocados can be used in many ways, from eating them sliced fresh in salads or in sandwiches; just be sure to toss sliced avocado with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. You can even use avocados in baking. Check out a great site, www.californiaavocado.com, and you’ll find all kinds of serving ideas, including using avocados in brownies!
From a nutritional point of view, avocados are cholesterol free, and have heart-friendly monounsaturated fat. They are full of nutrients that are good for us, and are often included on diet menus because of all these benefits.
Okay, raise your hands, how many of you have started an avocado plant from the pit? I know I did, and it was great fun to watch it grow. If you’d like to try, take the clean avocado pit, gently poke it with three toothpicks like tripod legs, then rest the pit in a jar filled with water, so that the bottom of the pit sits in the water. Be sure to keep the water level up so that it is touching the pit. In time, you will see roots and a stem begin to sprout. When the stem is about six inches long, cut it back to three inches. It will begin to leaf out, and when this happens, you can carefully remove the toothpicks and plant the seedling in a flowerpot. Give it a sunny location and even watering, and you will have an interesting houseplant to add to your collection.
February is here, and the first meeting of 2013 for the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunshine Room at SIGN. Our guest will be Warren Crossman speaking about food security. Everyone is welcome; but please note the new day, Thursday, February 21.
Also, ask a gardening friend to join you and plan to attend the 3rd Annual Prairie Sun Seed Festival on Saturday, February 23 at Yorkdale Central School. There will be exhibits and presentations on locally grown food, food security, gardening, food preservation, and much more! That’s Saturday, February 23.
Till next time, stay warm, make a sunny salad with avocados, and have a great week!